Visitors to Playing The Building (Aug. 8-31) will be able to clank radiators in the 160-year-old former engine shed, bang its pillars and send air whistling through the heating pipe “flutes.”

Byrne, who first came up with the idea when he occupied an empty Stockholm factory for an art project in 2005, took the same concept to New York a year ago.
Within a month, more than 10,000 people went to the Battery Maritime Building, a disused 1909 ferry terminal in Manhattan, to make it rumble, scrape and hiss.

“It really does fit the industrial, steam-powered nature of the place. It feels absolutely right,” Roundhouse chief Marcus Davey told London’s Evening Standard.

The concept is far from high-tech, as the sounds are controlled by a battered, out-of-tune pump organ in the centre of the room, which has a stream of coloured wires pouring out the back. They send electricity to metal parts that vibrate, and whack or tap at bits of the structure.

Keys that would have played low notes on the organ will prompt rumbles, those in the middle send air through pipes used as wind instruments, and the top ones ping at metal with little hammers.

Byrne enjoys the fact that well-schooled pianists will generate a frightening racket no more or less tunefully masterful than the toddlers who will thump the keys with their elbows.

“It might be an experience in which one begins to re-examine one’s surroundings and to realise that culture – of which sound and music are parts – doesn’t always have to be produced by professionals and packaged in a consumable form,” he’s explained when setting up previous musical buildings.

Click here to read the entire Evening Standard article.